Managing both vacation and sick time well

Managing sick time and vacation time correctly may both contribute to employee happiness.

Managing sick time and vacation time correctly may both contribute to employee happiness.

By now, the lack of vacation workers in the United States enjoy compared to other countries has been much reported. The BBC recently dubbed it "America's national vacation problem," referencing the tendency for workers to take a minimum of days off even when their employers don't give them a maximum limit.

As multiple people in different professions cited by the article state, there's often too much social or cultural pressure to complete tasks, as well as the desire among vacationing professionals to make things easier for their fellow workers from afar. While this may be a large issue that no one company can completely reverse, the Paid Time Off (PTO) system your HR department uses can make it either easier or more difficult for employees to pursue vacation.

Managing sick time separately from PTO could make more sense for some companies.Managing sick time separately from PTO could make more sense for some companies.

Businesses can send a message to employees that they care about their personal time

One related problem that employers may face is the distinction between different types of "vacation." PTO, sick days and time spent working from home are all different, and need to be managed accordingly. Forbes contributor Liz Ryan asserts that combining all of these benefits into one "bank" is dangerous to productivity and employee morale.

"Consolidated Paid Time Off banks are a horrible idea, because they force employees to trade vacation time for sick time, and that means that people come to work ill and infect everyone else," Ryan says. Instead, she says that companies should "let a mildly ill person work from home without docking him or her one sick day. That's what civilized employers do."

By paying attention to such issues before they become major problems, businesses can send a message to employees that they care about their personal time. The right HR consulting solutions will give departments the guidance necessary to rethink inefficient PTO policies.